Pan and the Nymph Pitys (1979) was written for the exellent Finnish flute and guitar duo Ilari Lehtinen / Seppo Siirala, whom I had the pleasure to work with in the late 70s — at the very beginning of my career as composer. This cooperation resulted in several other pieces as well and in a record with compositions for flute and guitar, which was issued in 1980.
Pan and the Nymph Pitys bears the first symptoms of my later style. It is not strictly tonal. The texture is softly dissonant. But the name? I remember that I did not have any name for the piece, when it was finished. Pan would have been a nice mythological reference, but I did not want to repeat the story about Pan and Syrinx. In an old mythological dictionary I found that Pan had had some love affair with an other nymph as well, with Pitys (greek pine-tree). So the listener may think of Pan in the vital A-sections and imagine the nymph in the languishing B-section and coda of the ABA form.
In fact Pan and the Nymph Pitys was finished two times. When I had finished it the first time I had to go to the telephone, and my three year old daughter cut the score in small pieces with a pair of scissors in a few minutes. Then I had to finish it once again.
© Harri Wessman, June 13, 1993
(from the letter to Machiko Takahashi) Instrumentation
fl, guit Category
Chamber Works, Pedagogical Works Premiere
Ilari Lehtinen, flute, Seppo Siirala, guitar, Helsinki, April 25, 1980. Archive number
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